The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, threatened the National Committee of the Democratic Party establishing that they would be sued if the committee does not restore access to their national database of voters.

The dispute began when the DNC argued that staff members of Sanders campaign sent a software error to view, download and export confidential data files of the voters from the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, after discovering a gap in the database, which is maintained by the committee and rented out to the campaigns.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NGP VAN, the vendor that handles the master file, said the incident occurred while a patch was being applied to the software. The process briefly opened a window into proprietary information from other campaigns, said the company’s chief, Stu Trevelyan.

Sanders´ campaign was blamed for violating the agreement that all presidential campaigns have signed with the DNC, ordering the NPG VAN to suspend the system access to the Sanders campaign until the DNC have a full accounting on whether or not the information was used and the way in which it was disposed.

Following the suspension system, Sanders campaign fired one of the staff members, the national director Josh Uretsky data.

Uretsky told CNN that he was not trying to look at Clinton’s data and denied that voter file information had been downloaded. Stating that they knew there was a security breach in the data, and they were trying to prove the system to understand what was happening and discover the extent of their own data’s exposure.

“We investigated it for a short period of time to see the scope of the Sanders campaign’s exposure and then the breach was shut down, presumably by the vendor,” he said. “We did not gain any material benefit.”

Although Sanders campaign insisted that they didn’t keep the data seen, Time magazine reported that they got the files with the lists of voters that Clinton’s campaign had obtained in 10 states, including Iowa and New Hampshire, and employees created around 24 lists from scratch with the information from the database downloaded from the Clinton campaign, which they preserve in their personal folders.

In a press conference outside headquarters near the Capitol Sanders, Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, called the situation of the suspension of the files as an “inappropriate overreaction.” Adding that the campaign would file a lawsuit in the federal court against the DNC if the committee didn’t restored the access to their database. He also requested an independent audit of the handling of the DNC data.

Weaver said the leadership of the DNC has used the incident to prohibit access to their own information, which is a vital element in any campaign, labeling the event as sabotage to their campaign, which, according to him, is one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history.

At the press conference, he said the campaign has flagged similar problems with the software for the DNC in the past, but that no public stink about the issue was made, suggesting that the DNC was using this incident to help Clinton and smear Sanders’ campaign. “Sadly, the DNC is relying on an incompetent vendor who on more than one occasion has dropped the firewall between the various Democratic candidates’ data,” he said.

The authorities clarified that it is unlikely to start a criminal investigation against Sanders. However, the candidate could present political consequences because of the actions taken by his staff to get an unfair advantage.

The voter information is extremely important for campaigns with potential supporters. Even sophisticated campaigns spend millions collecting this information, as how likely individual voters are to cast ballots in primary elections as well as which candidate they currently favor.

This data can also include details of voters, designed to help the campaign to target their appeals to groups of voters.

Source: The Huffington Post